According to my interpretation of the National Democratic Institute’s 2016 election calendar, there will be approximately 76 international elections this year, ranging from municipal, legislative, parliamentary, or presidential to the occasional national referendum.
Each of these 76 elections represents the potential for protests, demonstrations and or riots. Even a minor election can erupt in violence. On the other hand, a failed national referendum in 2014 to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom was received with little to no discord. More recently, the hotly contested elections in Taiwan came and went with a minimal amount of activity. In an election dubbed ‘The Battle for Taiwan’s Soul’ by The National Interest, there was very little disruption. A Google search for Taiwan election 2016 and demonstration or riot turned up zero results.
We’re not out of the woods yet; however, a slew of elections await us in 2016
Where to check if your bucket list country has an election
You can use the Google machine to search for international elections, or check one of the websites below:
- National Democratic Institute elections calendar
- Wikipedia’s national electoral calendar for 2016
- Election Guides has a cool map which tracks upcoming elections
Examples of elections to watch plus background on why things could get heated:
Nicaragua (November 2016)
The current ‘president’ and Sandinista party member has continued to run under auspicious circumstances, stretching or skirting the constitution to remain in power and is now running for a third consecutive term. In 2006, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court declared that provisions limiting term eligibility did not apply and in 2011, the FLSN party amended the constitution to allow more term limits. How convenient. To add fuel to the fire, there is also a project to build a canal large enough to allow supermax tankers to pass from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Caribbean the Atlantic through Nicaragua as an alternative to the Panama Canal. This project (predicted to begin in 2016) would cut a huge path across the country, displacing not just people, but entire villages and endangering the freshwater ecosystem in Lake Nicaragua.
Burkina Faso (May 2016)
In 2015, protests and a presidential coup ousted the longstanding Blaise Compaoré who, he himself took power in a coup in 1987 after the murder of the previous president. Compaoré’s Chief of Intel, General Gilbert Djingere is currently being charged with said murder. Tempers could flare up this summer depending on which way the vote goes.
On the heels of last year’s protests, the government has just unveiled the draft for what could be Thailand’s 20th constitution. It subsequently pushed the general elections to 2017. Will that create create issues in the capital? Hard to say, but worth knowing if your travel plans for 2016 include Bangkok.
Six countries holding referendums in 2016
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Will it get hairy?
Now that you know what you’re looking for, head to the Google machine and plug in your destination, combining it with the words election and/or protest or demonstration to see how much press it’s getting. I also suggest finding expats living and reporting in your country of choice and following them on social media. Follow @etravelsafety as well for warnings of all sorts: Follow @etravelsafety
Take it a step further and actually reach out to one of the expats you’re following on social media to see what the real vibe is on the street.
An election should not be your final deciding factor whether to travel to a country, it should; however, definitely be taken into consideration while planning and before booking a ticket. A little research beforehand will shed some light into how contested the election could be.